The Monday Message Board has a lively discussion of the Habib case, and I thought I’d make my own observations. Based on the evidence I’ve seen, I’m fairly confident of three things
* Habib was up to something connected with Islamic militants in Afghanistan
* After his arrest he was tortured (in Pakistan and Egypt) and subject to cruel and degrading treatment (in Guantanamo Bay)
* The Australian government knew about and approved Habib’s treatment.
A lot of participants in the debate seem to assume that, if you accept the first point, the second and third don’t really matter. I would have hoped that this kind of position didn’t need to be refuted, but that’s apparently not the case, so I’ll try.
Update A lengthy comments thread already, but it’s interesting that no-one, as far as I can see has disagreed with my factual conclusions. If there are people out there who think that Habib is an innocent bystander they haven’t shown up here. And, although there are plenty of commenters willing to defend torture, no-one, it seems, is willing to put their name (or handle) to a claim that the government is telling the truth.
First, torture is evil.
Second, whether or not Habib was guilty as insinuated (he’s never been charged), if you approve of torture you approve of torturing innocents because this will inevitably happen. In fact, it already has.
Third, Habib’s own case illustrates the point that torture doesn’t work, and is counterproductive. The Americans had him (and many of his alleged accomplices) for three years and still couldn’t pin anything on him. If he was a terrorist to start with, he’s a hardened terrorist now. If he was a noisy malcontent, he and all his friends have a lot more reason to be noisy and malcontented, and some will probably go further.
fn1. Of course, with the kind of definitional legerdemain that characterises this government, no evidence could possibly prove this claim. In matters of this kind, things are now set up so that everyone knows and nobody knows.